Saturday, April 5, 2008

Choking on Charity

I was asked, by my lovely ward, to take a meal to a Spanish-speaking only family. Why me? Because I speak Portuguese. Um. Yeah. I feel for peoples of the Navajo nation who are greeted with, "Como esta!" It's not the same, dude. Can you find some similarities? Well, yah, sure. But can you carry on a conversation? NO! No you can't!

So I asked Danika, who served in East LA, what do those of the Mexican persuasion eat, that would be comforting? She says, Pasole. Okay, never heard of it, but we'll try it. She sends me a recipe, which I take to the local spainsh fare mercado. I'm not sure what you serve it with, so I ask the lady in the bakery, who can tell from my pasty complexion that I have no idea what I'm doing. Tostadas (which are apparently NOT the same as taquitos), you dip tostadas in your pasole (duh!). Tia Rosa, homemade. Got it.

Then I see a can of Pasole, which looks remarkably like beef stew, and look at my recipe. Not the same, and it has extras. After stopping a few shoppers, I get a bilingual. HOORAY! Pasole, I'm told by two Mexican ladies, is not the recipe I have. Hominy, shredded pork, and puree'd chili's. Basic Pasole - everyone knows this. Very easy. And it needs to be served with shredded cabbage, lime on top (NO sour cream, where did I get THAT idea?) and take out the diced tomatoes. Get 8 dried chili's, open them, TAKE OFF THE TOP, (noted), boil them 'til their soft, and then puree them in my unused blender with a little hot water. Got it. Stupid Gringo recipe!

So, I grab a "tres leches" cake for desert, finish my crock pot, and proudly send this charitable dinner off to my family in need. Matthew comes home and asks about dinner. I've been through the Mercado and Post office with a 3yr old, I've made dinner for this family, got lost looking for the address, ran out of gas, and I'm TIRED. Have some left over pasole. He takes a bite, walks three steps and keels over. "OH MY GOSH THAT'S HOT!" You can imagine what is running through my mind, "whimp!" And then . . .

I tell this, with great amusement, to my sister Lisa. She asks, "Hmmm, he said it was hot? Well, you DID take out the seeds and the "ribs" of the interior of the chili's, right?" Hmmmm? Why would I do a thing like that? "Because that is what makes the chili's so dang hot that even a Mexican wouldn't want to eat it." Oooooh, really? "Everyone knows that . . ." OHHHHHHHHHHHHH! 'cept me. That poor family!

What must they think! When I had tried, in Portuguese, to explain to the family, that I got the recipe from someone at the mercado, he translated this to his family, "Oh! It's a Portuguese recipe! Portuguese Pasole!" Oh, they are going to choke on it. In sum, now we know that the entire world believes that Portuguese is the same as Spanish, and that every decent cook knows to take out the seeds and ribs of dried chili's! May you be wiser than I have been is my only hope.

8 comments:

Matthew said...

Poor family? What about poor husband? I come home from work to find our kitchen looking like it was hit by a Mexican tsunami, kids running amok and my wife almost passed out on the couch. I ask "what's for dinner?". She weakly points to a crockpot on the rasps "Pasoleeeee". I amble over to the Pasole and stuff a spoonful in my mouth - "AAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHH, my mouth is on fire, it is LITERALLY ON FIRE!" I stumble around the kitchen looking for somthing cold like the Nile river or an arctic glacier to pour down my throat. To add insult to injury, my wife thinks that I'm a gringo wuss and I end up eatinga frozen corndogs for dinner. Ohh and I also take pity on my exhausted, pregnant wife by cleaning up the huge Pasole mess in the kitchen.

Danika said...

I'm so sorry it turned out bad. Thanks for doing it anyway! And at least you've learned about chiles!!! I know portugese is different than spanish, but you know more than I do...my knowledge consists of what I've learned from Dora & Diego! And thankfully you don't have to see those people every week...

Lisa said...

I don't know what made me laugh harder....your story when I first heard it, or Matthew's comment. However, I think you get five stars for even attempting to make a Mexican dish....I mean, you could have taken over the standard spaghetti and tossed salad. I forgot to ask if YOU tried it before taking it over to the family......maybe Matthew IS just a "gringo wuss!"

Alicia said...

I LOVED this post. Mostly because I've totally been there. My husband is from Ecuador, (which means everyone thinks he's an illegal Mexican immigrant) and when I try to make things from his country, it's just a disaster.

I always end up cooking it too long, or to short. The rice is crunchy, or something else is burned. We have come to a compromise: I don't make anything from Ecuador (Except Seco de pollo. I have that one DOWN) and he eats whatever American dish I make.

And lastly, my brother married a girl from Mexico (not Mexican-American. STRAIGHT UP MEXICAN) and I think I've had her Posole before. And from what I remember, it is supposed to be a *little* hot. So maybe only 3 chiles with stems and seeds next time? Let's try

Katrina said...

OH NO! I have learned my lessons. Lesson #1: If you ain't never heard of it, don't cook it without an expert at your elbow.
Lesson #2: Don't cook a new recipe if it's for charity. Stick to what you know.
Lesson #3: Taste test before shipping something out - especially if you are representing the church to a non-member (they have different ideas about guilt & forgiveness I hear . . .).
Lesson #4: If you fail to heed all these warnings, memorize this phrase in the native language of the recipient, "Bon Apetite from me and all the Jehovah's Witnesses!"

Dickson Circus said...

this actually sounds pretty good! pulled pork, cabbage, lime. YUM! I say chalk it up to a learning experience, and if you're in the store and you hear some gringos say, "hmm, i bet you put four full chilis in this pasole" you will be there to avert them from disaster.
Matthew's comment made me laugh! "looking for something cold like the Nile river." HEE HEE! Still have that taste in your mouth?

Coronado's said...

you really didn't know about the seeds? lol that's hilarious :p i think you may be as gringo as they come.

hey, at least you love your husband enough to have went shopping (at some point) for those frozen corndogs he ate for dinner!

Meredith & Steve said...

That is funny. Sorry about that, but, now I know why you were at the Mercado and were able to buy the world's most giant marshmallows!

And it really was nice of you to cater to their tastes. I bring whatever I feel like when asked to bring a meal! But, I don't think I have ever been asked to make an ethnic meal for anyone. Crud, you could have taken them Taco Bell! Or Filebertos!